Kilometre 0 (Kilometre Zero) is quite an important spot in Madrid. It’s the place where all the Spanish main roads begin (A-1 to A-6). That’s the official definition, but you could also see it as the place where all the main roads end—all roads lead to Madrid 🙂
Apparently, lots of other countries have a Kilometre 0 as well, but I’d never heard of the idea until earlier today when I was planning a trip to Madrid.
In Madrid, Kilometre 0 is marked by a small decorative paving stone in the ground. It shows a map of Spain with Madrid in the centre and the six main roads radiating away from it. There are are also two golden pointers that resemble the hands of a clock set to quarter-past-nine. Between the pointers is a small circle (or Zero?) directly over Madrid.
The article I read about Kilometre 0 said it’s in Puerta del Sol (Gate of the Sun). Puerta del Sol is one of the most important squares in Madrid so I figured Kilometre 0 would be easy to find. I got that wrong. I also presumed it would be somewhere in the centre of the square I got that wrong too.
Finding Puerta del Sol was easy, but I couldn’t find the Kilometre 0 marker at all. I expected to see a crowd of people looking at the ground. What I found was crowds of people all around. There were lots of street entertainers too. Puerta del Sol is a busy place. After spending a few minutes walking around looking like a guy who’d lost a contact lens, I gave up and decided to ask for help.
The thing is, it was easy to see many of the people in the square were tourists. I didn’t want to ask a tourist because they might not know so I approached a guy pushing a pram. My gut feeling was he was a local and I was right. He pointed me in the right direction and I got to where I wanted to be.
If I had problems finding Kilometre 0, other people visiting Madrid might find it hard too. I’m willing to bet I’m not the first person and won’t be the last. Getting directions wasn’t too hard for me because I speak Spanish. There’s probably a lot of tourists who do not so I thought I’d write a blog post to help. Of course, it will only help the ones who go online to find out how to find Kilometre 0, but if you’ve gone online looking for the easiest way to find Madrid’s famous decorative paving slab, this post is for you.
How to Find Kilometre 0 in Madrid
The thing that makes Kilometre 0 hard to find is this: It’s not in the main square at all. It’s on the pavement at the other side of the road. Okay, technically, that’s still in the square, but it’s not in the area where tourists are likely to look. The road and traffic for a kind of boundary you don’t think to look past.
The other problem is, there tends to be a group of people waiting to take pictures of Kilometre 0. Only the ones taking pictures are looking at the ground. The rest are busy talking and waiting their turn.
However, when you get to the Puerta del Sol the Equestrian Statue of Carlos III is pretty hard to miss. Just look for a statue of a man on a horse. To the side of the statue, there’s a fountain. The building directly behind the fountain has a big neon sign on top. It says TIO PEPE and has a bottle of sherry wearing a sombrero and holding a guitar.
Kilometre 0 is directly in front of the building on the other side of the road. If you arrive from that direction, you may find it hard to see the fountain, but that big ol’ sign is pretty hard to miss.
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